OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's two severe winter storms - the massive Christmas Eve blizzard followed by the January ice storm - caused extensive damage to roads, bridges, utility lines and other public infrastructure in many parts of the state. Today, specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working side by side with state and local officials to help Oklahoma recover from the disasters.
FEMA's help comes through the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program, which reimburses state and local governments, federally recognized tribes and certain private nonprofit organizations for eligible expenses they incurred in protecting lives and property ahead of the storms, and in cleaning up and rebuilding afterward. The grant program also provides mitigation funds to help rebuild infrastructure that is better able to withstand future storms.
"Federal Public Assistance funds go to government entities and nonprofits with the intent of helping to restore the quality of life for all Oklahomans affected by these devastating events," said Gregory W. Eaton, federal coordinating officer for the recovery efforts. "For example, the money might be set aside to reimburse an electric co-op for repairing downed power lines, but homeowners who got their lights turned back on are the real beneficiaries."
"FEMA is Oklahoma's partner in these recovery efforts," said Fred Liebe, state coordinating officer for the disasters. "State and FEMA specialists sit down together with each applicant to go over their specific projects, look at documented expenses and determine which are eligible for FEMA reimbursement.
Under the PA program, FEMA reimburses applicants for 75 percent of their eligible expenses, while the other 25 percent is the nonfederal share. In Oklahoma, 12.5 percent of the nonfederal share comes from the state and 12.5 percent is paid by the applicant. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then makes disbursements to the local jurisdictions and organizations that incurred costs.
The presidential disaster declaration stemming from the Dec. 24-25 blizzard makes FEMA Public Assistance grants available to local governments, tribes and eligible nonprofits in 29 counties.
These are Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Delaware, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Lincoln, Love, McClain, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tillman and Tulsa.
The January ice storm resulted in a presidential disaster declaration for Alfalfa, Caddo, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Delaware, Dewey, Ellis, Grady, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Hughes, Jackson, Kiowa, LeFlore, McClain, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Roger Mills, Seminole, Stephens and Washita counties.
Applicants eligible for assistance under the Public Assistance Grant Program include the state of Oklahoma and its agencies; Native American tribal governments and tribal organizations; cities, towns and counties; and private nonprofit organizations that provide critical and essential services, such as fire and emergency rescue, medical treatment, power, water and sewer utilities, and others.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against emergencies and disasters. The department delivers service to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through a network of more than 350 local emergency managers.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure tha...